Guardian: It was a few weeks before Christmas when reports first emerged from Italy of doctors being abused, insulted and physically intimidated.
Italy, of all places. Where hospitals were overwhelmed last February by suffering on an almost medieval scale, and where public gratitude towards medical staff risking their lives inspired Britain to clap for its own care workers. But by November, Italian doctors using their social media accounts to warn of a serious second wave were being swamped with abuse from Covid deniers.
Their car windows were smashed, murals celebrating their heroism defaced; a family doctor in Vicenza who asked a patient to put a mask on was beaten up. Somehow, doctors had become the enemy. They were bearing the brunt of the backlash for bringing news nobody wanted to hear, which was that the nightmare was back. Still, for some reason I assumed nothing like that could happen in the UK. Now that feels complacent.
It’s doctors, more than journalists or politicians, whose eyewitness reports make Covid denial so hard to sustain, and for a twisted few that creates a motive to shut them up. With reporters largely denied access to hospital wards in the eye of the storm, doctors using Twitter or YouTube or Instagram to talk about what it’s like on the inside have become almost citizen journalists. They can translate those scary but abstract graphs of rising infections into human stories that are so much harder to ignore or argue with, and some clearly feel an ethical duty to do so. read more…